Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I can't get away from Shahrukh Khan because he's all over my nabe: most recently he's appeared on a billboard for some shi-shi brand of watch, decked out in black leather, slicked back hair, and familiar brooding pout. He's crouching, I presume to make himself slightly more accessible to the mortals he looks down upon. The ad asks: what are you made of?

Shahrukh Khan is made of about 100% charisma, but my thing for him started as distaste. Not only am I too old for and was never really prone to worshipping superstars (til futbol, that is), but I used to get intermittently and somewhat unwillingly dragged to Bollywood films. These were almost always too long, too musical, and too melodramatic for me to really enjoy. And for melodrama, Shahrukh seemed to me the worst. It's as if he studied all the subtle facial gestures of classical Indian dance forms and interpreted each as impishly, even vulgarly, as possible. Too far away and over the top for me. So relegated to a regular diet of Bollywood, I took a little solace in the more elegant, lowkey, and mature Amitabh Bachan. Classically handsome, understated - Amitabh (who was just in town, kind of) was the opposite of Shahrukh's histrionic prettyboy.

I don't remember when this changed - maybe the black combat pullover worn in Mian Hoon Na did it, or maybe the dancing in the streets of Flushing, from Kal Ho Naa Ho. Whenever. I cringe to admit it, but at some point, all the invisible, cumulative power of SRK finally got to me.

That I would like to think I'm too grown-up and above getting all distracted by some supposed hottie superstar on celluloid makes me all the more appalled when I find myself pretending not to be looking at all the SRK posters in all the video shops down the street. And this recent Guardian interview makes him all the more appealing. Not many other megastars would, in contrast to complaining about sacrificing their privacy or ability to travel in peace, admit to loving that they need 6 bodyguards everywhere they go (but only 2 in most parts of the UK and US), and that they live for the adulation and attention of their one billion fans. Also, evidence of: smarts (Econ degree!), progressive-ness (he's Muslim, married to a Hindu), and generous (contributes a great deal of the ridiculous amounts of money he makes to charitable causes)!

SRK claims there are tons of better-looking Bollywood actors than him. But it's not true: take an already ridiculously handsome or beautiful person, add that much of the invisible, omnipotent ingredient that is charisma, and you've got what gods are made of.

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